2016 Election Blog #18: Ten Facts on American Politics and the 2016 Campaign

Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.

Posted on May 4, 2016 / 26 Nisan 5776

Written by Steven Windmueller, Ph. D.


Money and Politics

2016 Campaign Will Be the Most Expensive Ever: The 2012 Campaign (Romney-Obama) cost an estimated $2.6 billion; the 2016 numbers are expected to exceed $5 billion. Since the Citizens United court case (2010), corporations and unions are unrestricted in terms of the amounts and types of support they may provide to political candidates, in turn accelerating the amount of funds available to those seeking public office.

In the New Hampshire primary, for example, Fox News calculated the vote totals based on each campaign’s expenditures. In the end Donald Trump spent $40 per vote, Ted Cruz only expended $18, while it would cost Jeb Bush $1,200 per vote, and Governor Chris Christie $852.

Jews as Major Financial Players: Depending on one’s sources, Jews contribute between 30 to 60% of all campaign dollars raised by Democratic Party Presidential candidates. On the Republican side an estimated 25% of campaign proceeds are donated by Jewish Americans.

Americans Have “Stopped” Voting: In the 2014 mid-term elections, voter turnout was the lowest seen in 70 years, with only 34.4% of eligible voters voting. Since 1960, when Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy ran against one another for President, voter turnout for Presidential elections has dropped consistently. Yet, American Jews continue to vote in disproportionate numbers; some 85% of Jewish voters participate in this country’s national elections.

Hate on the Campaign Trail: The 2016 campaign may prove to be amongst the most hate-filled political events in American history. According to a variety of sources, the campaign and its candidates have trigged a wide range of racial, ethnic, and gender attacks. As the Southern Poverty Law Center observed that in this campaign one finds “an enormous rage in the electorate, the growth of hate groups, and also hate speech in mainstream politics to an extent that we have not seen in decades.”

Angry Americans at the Polls: The leading candidates for their party’s nomination, Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, are receiving significantly high “unfavorable” ratings (Clinton 54%) and (Trump 65%). In summarizing the mood of the country, the following observation was put forward: “Voters are disheartened, discouraged about the future and disdainful of the leading candidates in both parties.”

Third Party Candidates and the Jews: We should expect to see at least two additional parties on the November ballot; the Green and Libertarian Parties are scheduled to compete. Jill Stein will be the likely Green Party nominee; Dr. Stein who is Jewish has been a Green Party candidate for a number of Massachusetts’ statewide positions. She was her party’s nominee in 2012. Some 14 candidates are vying for the Libertarian Party nomination, including Dr. Mark Allan Feldman, a physician from the Cleveland area. Dr. Feldman is also Jewish. The Libertarian Party Convention will take place at the end of May.

“Divisive and Vulgar” Campaign Rhetoric: Presidential historians and news commentators have called the campaign rhetoric associated with the 2016 race to be among the most destructive and angry in American history.

Party Elites Have Historically Controlled the Nomination: Political endorsements have been the single best predictor since 1980 as to which candidate will win a party’s nomination. Hillary Clinton has secured over 150 endorsements. Yet on the Republican side this political measure may prove to be useless. While Jeb Bush had some 24 endorsements, no other Republican candidate has secured more than ten. Party leaders are clearly not deciding the 2016 election, as
Republican voters in particular have broken with the leadership of the Party in supporting outsider candidates, i.e. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Upending Traditional Campaign Tactics: Donald Trump won New Hampshire without spending much money or knocking on many doors. On the other hand, Governor Kasich would hold over 100 more than 100 Town Halls there and spent 69 days in the state, according the CBS News; Trump spent fewer than 24 days in the state and held less than a dozen town halls. Instead of employing the more established smaller settings with voters, the Trump campaign concentrated on large rallies. And unlike most of the other candidates, Trump did not secure legions of supporters going door-to-door in the final weeks. According to the exit polls, Trump won across the board as he secured both conservative and moderates, men and women, voters under 64, college graduates, voters without a college degree, first-time voters, registered Republicans and undeclared voters. His organizing tactics were indeed successful in New Hampshire!

How the Media has Impacted the 2016 Campaign:

The estimated “free media” coverage received by the candidates:
Donald Trump $1.898 Billion
Hillary Clinton $746 Million
Bernie Sanders $321 Million
Ted Cruz $313 Million

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